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Many preterm infants may need vitamin D supplementation

March 11, 2015

A new study from Australia suggests that a standardized nutrition protocol can be effective at raising vitamin D levels in preterm infants.

The observational study evaluated the effectiveness of a hospital’s vitamin D practices in meeting current supplementation recommendations by comparing the vitamin D levels of 28 infants at birth to their vitamin D levels at discharge (1). The infants received a standardized nutrition protocol including a vitamin D supplementation. The average vitamin D intake was reported at 643.6 IU daily. The study showed that the proportion of vitamin D-deficient infants decreased from at birth to discharge (32.1% versus 7.1%). Vitamin D levels increased from an average of 18.4 ng/ml to 29.2 ng/ml. 

The researchers added that hospitals should recognize the importance of vitamin D in early development. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in ensuring the normal growth and development of an infant. According to the scientists, low vitamin D levels during infancy have been related to a higher risk of impaired language development, allergies, and respiratory distress syndrome, which is the number one cause of death for preterm infants. An earlier study found that 64% of preterm infants were vitamin D deficient at birth, and 35% of these infants remained vitamin D deficient upon being discharged from the hospital (2). These results suggest that vitamin D supplementation for preterm infants during their stay at the hospital was inadequate for the majority of the infants who were deficient.

References

  1. Pinto K. et al. Vitamin D in preterm infants: A prospective observational study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. Published online February 2015.
  2. Monangi N. et al. Vitamin D status of early preterm infants and the effects of vitamin D intake during hospital stay. Archives of Disease in Childhood. Fetal and Neonatal Edition. 2014; 99(2):166–168.